Feb 1, 2023
TuSimple Says It Didn’t Share Tech With China-Linked Hydron
(Bloomberg) -- TuSimple Holdings Inc., an autonomous trucking startup that’s been the subject of US investigations into its foreign connections, said it hasn’t shared self-driving technology with another startup with Chinese ties.
Any information TuSimple employees shared with the startup, Hydron Inc., was in line with standard industry practices and won’t allow foreign adversaries to replicate its technology, according to a spokeswoman.
“As we have previously disclosed, while the investigation is ongoing, the information shared with Hydron that we have seen is the same type of information shared with other potential truck manufacturing partners so those vehicles can be custom built to be compatible with our technology,” TuSimple spokeswoman Megan Strader said in an email.
“That information would not allow an outside entity to replicate what’s at the heart of TuSimple – our autonomous software technology,” she added.
San Diego, California-based TuSimple was recently the focus of a probe by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency panel that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments. It settled the investigation in February 2022 by removing Chinese executives from the board and by giving some oversight to the US government.
Since then, TuSimple co-founder Mo Chen started hydrogen-trucking company Hydron, which has Chinese connections. Late last year, TuSimple ousted Chief Executive Officer Ersin Yumer and several board members, and disclosed that it had an internal investigation looking into Hydron hiring its employees on a part-time basis. It also disclosed in November that the Securities and Exchange Commission had asked it for information.
The company said the employees who did work for Hydron didn’t share TuSimple’s proprietary technology.
TuSimple shares have lost almost 90% of their value over the past 12 months.
The Wall Street Journal reported that CFIUS recommended that the Justice Department consider economic-espionage charges against leaders of TuSimple, citing people familiar with the matter.
“We continue to be in regular communication with CFIUS, and the allegations made by the anonymous sources are not consistent with our discussions with them,” Strader wrote.
(Adds share performance in eighth paragraph. An earlier version of the story corrected misspelling of Hydron in headline.)
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